For the first time exceeded 40 trillion yuan, China from a large foreign trade country to a foreign trade power


On January 13, the State Information Office held a press conference on the annual import and export situation in 2022, General Administration of Customs spokesman Lv Daliang introduced that in 2022, the total value of China's imports and exports exceeded the 40 trillion yuan mark for the first time, and continued to maintain a stable growth on the basis of a high base in 2021, the scale of which reached a new record high, maintaining the status of the first major country in trade in goods for six consecutive years.

The pattern of high-level opening to the outside world has basically formed

Specifically, the total value of China's import and export of goods trade was RMB 42.07 trillion in 2022, up 7.7% from 2021. In the past year, China's foreign trade overcame the adverse effects of a number of factors at home and abroad, showing a strong development resilience, and the first position of global foreign trade was further consolidated.

From the perspective of the international environment, the new crown epidemic continues, while the prevalence of unilateralism and isolationism continues to increase the challenges to global trade, and the problem of supply chain tensions in the global industrial chain has not been fully alleviated. Meanwhile, regional conflicts have further increased the complexity of the international economic and trade environment.

At home, the recurrence of the epidemic has created an impact on economic development beyond expectations, and the situation of tightening demand, supply shock and weakening expectations has become more severe, constituting three major challenges to economic development and further increasing downward pressure on the economy. And the sharp fluctuations of the RMB exchange rate, and make the foreign trade risk increasing.

In this situation, China's foreign trade still achieved such bright results, it is not easy. Not only that, China's foreign trade also continues to show a good development trend.

By quarter, the total value of import and export exceeded 9 trillion yuan and 10 trillion yuan in the first and second quarters of last year, respectively; the total value of import and export grew to 11.3 trillion yuan in the third quarter and continued to stay at 11 trillion yuan in the fourth quarter. Foreign trade scale quarter by quarter growth and can be maintained on a larger scale, for this year's foreign trade development has laid a good foundation.

At the same time, a high-level pattern of opening up to the outside world has basically taken shape. This is mainly reflected in the continuous improvement of trade quality and continuous optimization of trade structure. Today, high value-added mechanical and electrical products have become the hot products of China's foreign trade. In the past year, China's cell phones, computers, integrated circuits, etc. accounted for nearly 60% of the total annual exports.

In particular, new energy vehicles have emerged and are becoming a force for China's foreign trade. According to statistics, China's vehicle exports exceeded 3 million units in 2022, reaching 3.111 million units, up 54.4% year-on-year, of which 679,000 new energy vehicles were exported, up 1.2 times year-on-year, achieving leapfrog development.

The rapid development of foreign trade, a strong boost to domestic economic growth, to consolidate the foundation of economic recovery, to maintain economic operation in a reasonable range to make a positive contribution.

The bright report card of China's foreign trade highlights both the failure of trade protectionism and unreasonable suppression of China, and the irreplaceability of China's important position and role in the global supply chain industry. In fact, since the outbreak of the new crown epidemic, China has played a key role as a "global supplier of goods" during a short period of "shock" in the global supply chain, making an important contribution to the stability and recovery of the world economy.

The company's products have been exported to the United States for the first time. Photo/Xinhua News Agency

Mastering the initiative of foreign trade

The achievements of China's foreign trade are firstly due to the resilience and strong resistance of the domestic economy. In the complex international economic and trade environment, China's competitive advantage in the world has not only not weakened, but has been further strengthened. The relative integrity of the industrial chain supply chain has also become one of the winning strategies to cope with various risks and challenges.

According to the data of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, China is the only country that has all the industrial categories in the United Nations Industrial Classification, and among 500 major industrial products, China ranks first in the world in the production of more than 40% of products.

It is especially worth mentioning that China has made it a strategic task to strengthen its manufacturing industry to prevent a similar situation of "industrial hollowing out" in some countries, which provides a solid foundation to guarantee China's strong manufacturing capacity. The report of the second tenth session particularly stressed the need to adhere to the focus of economic development on the real economy, to promote a new type of industrialization, to accelerate the construction of a strong manufacturing country, a strong quality country, a strong aerospace country, a strong transportation country, a strong network country, digital China.

Of course, the strong development of China's foreign trade is also inseparable from the government's introduction of a series of policies to stabilize foreign trade.

To sum up, the policy focus is mainly from two aspects to promote the realization of foreign trade "to maintain stability and improve quality" goal: on the one hand, is to reduce costs and increase efficiency, stabilize foreign trade market players; on the other hand, is to cultivate new growth points of foreign trade, to enhance sustainable development capacity.

For example, when the cost of shipping soared, the government organized the relevant business associations so that foreign trade enterprises and large transport enterprises directly to reduce shipping costs; the introduction of policies to speed up export tax rebates, so that foreign trade export enterprises can get export tax rebates as soon as possible to reduce the financial pressure and costs of enterprises.

In the first 11 months of last year, the country has accumulated export tax refunds (exemptions) of more than 1.7 trillion yuan. These measures effectively stimulate the vitality of foreign trade enterprises, 2022 China's import and export enterprises with solid results reached 506,000, an increase of 5.5%, stable market subjects, stable employment, to further play a role in protecting people's livelihood.

And in the face of deliberate suppression by a few countries, the reality of the continued deterioration of the foreign trade environment, China continues to expand foreign trade to new markets. With the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) coming into force, ASEAN has gradually become the largest partner in China's foreign trade market. At present, trade with ASEAN has accounted for more than 15% of China's total foreign trade value.

At the same time, the "BRICS" and "Belt and Road" along the countries, we also carry out close trade cooperation, in which China's import and export with the "Belt and Road" along the countries together 13.83 trillion yuan, an increase of 19.4% over 2021.

At present, the international economic and trade situation is increasingly complex and volatile, uncertainties and even factors beyond expectations on the risk of impact on foreign trade is still increasing, which also means that China's foreign trade situation is still severe. In the face of the high winds and waves of the international environment and the increasing accumulation of global economic risks, China's foreign trade can continue to ride the waves, the government and enterprises need to work together.

For the government, it needs to continue to maintain strategic stability in the complex environment, increase the implementation of foreign trade "stability and quality" policy, take measures to ensure the stability of the industrial chain supply chain, further expand foreign trade channels, and create a good foreign trade environment for enterprises.

For foreign trade enterprises, the key is also to practice good internal skills, and strive to find certainty in the uncertain international market, while strengthening internal management, and constantly improve the ability to innovate and market competitiveness.

In this way, we can firmly grasp the initiative of foreign trade, and constantly accelerate the pace of change from "large foreign trade country" to "strong foreign trade country".

Written by Li Chang'an (Researcher, Beijing Institute of Openness to Foreign Trade, University of International Business and Economics)

Editor/ Xu Qiuying

Proofreading/ Lu Xi

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